Dating back to before the 18th century, many cultures have been using garlic for both medicinal purposes and food, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. In modern times, garlic is still used for eating as well as a tool to help prevent many diseases and illnesses. Fresh garlic can be minced and added into your favorite recipes. Through regular garlic consumption, you can take advantage of all the benefits it has to offer.
Garlic has the ability to thin your blood, making it less likely for your blood to clot and lowering the cholesterol in your blood, reducing your risk of developing heart disease, according to the San Diego Naval Medical Center. The sulfur compounds found in garlic cause your platelets to become slippery, preventing them from sticking together and forming blood clots. When blood clots are prevented, you eliminate the possibility of blood flow becoming blocked and greatly reduce the possibility of a stroke or heart attack.
Cancer has been shown to be effective in preventing cancer, especially when it comes to stomach and prostate cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. Garlic contains compounds known as allyl sulfur. The National Cancer Institute states that when this compound is introduced into your body, it has the ability to prevent or slow the growth of tumors. This compound also makes your cells vulnerable to the stresses that are caused when cells divide. Since cancer cells divide at a rapid pace, the allyl sulfur compounds are able to damage them.
Eating raw garlic can help kill parasites found within the intestines, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Garlic is effective against many types of parasites including the common roundworms, tapeworms and pinworms. If you have a parasite infection within your bowels, consuming raw garlic can eliminate them if it is eaten on a regular basis. It is important to note that eating garlic should not replace medical treatment and, if you believe you have parasites, you should contact your physician for a recommendation.
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Although garlic does have many health benefits, consuming too much garlic can be harmful, according to the National Cancer Institute. Some of the potential side effects associated with garlic may include an unpleasant odor on both the breath and skin, a decrease in the levels of calcium and serum protein in the body, diarrhea and stomach disorders.
Derek Buckner has been writing professionally since 2005, specializing in diet, nutrition and general health. He has been published in "Today's Dietitian," "Food Essentials" and "Eating Well Magazine," among others. Buckner is a registered dietitian and holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition and food science from Drexel University.